Jessie Reyez is up to something.
The singer from Toronto has released another single, "Shutter Island," to follow last year's "Figures." The artwork of the two singles share similar color schemes and a peculiar red balloon, which brings up the question: is Reyez slowly assembling an album? Or is she simply taking her time to produce expert hits that deserve to be put on repeat? The new song comes a full six months after the first, but the lyrics of each share a theme, too.
"Figures" sets up a broken relationship and a narrator wanting revenge. "I gave you ride or die and you gave me games," she sings. Quoting Vin Diesel doesn't make for a deep love song, but that's not what she's going for. Reyez writes with retrospective confidence and finds humor in the insults. She writes unmasked anger and makes the fighting into jokes.
"Shutter Island," out yesterday, is the better song of the two. It's funny, balanced, a thrilling R&B hit. It starts with a mechanical pounding and unintelligible, distorted shouting. Instantly, the barrage gives way to gently plucked and sharply drawn violins. Like a commercial soundtrack, the lightly suspenseful strings give a background to Reyez's scathing lyrics.
"According to you, I'm a lucky lady," she sings, "Goodness, gracious, I'm replaceable." The song tells her side of the break-up story—she sees through the desperateness of the other party's accusations, the name-calling, the transfer of guilt. She's happy to let them rant and sweat because it's all clear in her head.
In the chorus she blasts through with the hilariously badass rebuke: "My straight jacket's custom-made! I'm crazy just like Galileo!" The orchestration sinks beneath heavy bass and a piercing drum machine. Reyez's voice in the verses swerves from aggressive sarcasm to light falsetto. But in the chorus, she lets loose the power behind it. The vocal dexterity she exercises is impressive and the sarcastic humor of her lyrics is perfect.
The title refers to the 2010 Scorsese film of the same name, in which Leo DiCaprio plays a U.S. Marshall investigating a hospital for the criminally insane (more play with the "crazy" accusations of the significant other). Reyez's second track comes out swinging and shows off her vocal skills.
There's no word on whether these tracks are part of an unannounced debut album or even a short EP for the singer. Her Twitter is also silent on the music front, but full of advice and self-bettering discoveries for anyone chasing a dream. Some of it is romantic, and some brutal: